Crossing East: Proud to Speak Pidgin, Brah

Pidgin scholar Lee Tonouchi reads from one of his books on the subject

Pidgin scholar Lee Tonouchi reads from one of his books on the subject, Living Pidgin: Contemplations on Pidgin Culture CrossingEast.org hide caption

itoggle caption CrossingEast.org

Producer Dmae Roberts shares an audio postcard of some Hawaiians who are proud to speak pidgin — a home-grown version of English with words and phrases borrowed from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Hawaiian and other languages brought to the islands over the centuries.

Lee Tonouchi, a pidgin scholar and author of books on the island chain's unique language, believes pidgin has its own intellectual foundation:

"The perception is the pidgin talker is going to be perceived as less intelligent than the standard English talker," he says. "When I was in college, after I discovered guys writing in pidgin, I said 'Heck yeah, I can do this pidgin creative writing.' Eventually I did my 30-page research papers in pidgin. I did my master's thesis in pidgin."

Voices in the broadcast piece include Domingo Los Banos, Espy Garcia, Lee Tonouchi, Kent Sakoda and Jeffrey Siegel.

Books Featured In This Story

Living Pidgin

Contemplations on Pudgin Culture

by Lee A. Tonouchi

Paperback, 55 pages | purchase

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Title
Living Pidgin
Subtitle
Contemplations on Pudgin Culture
Author
Lee A. Tonouchi

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Pidgin Grammar

An Introduction to the Creole Language of Hawaii

by Kent Sakoda and Jeff Siegel

Paperback, 120 pages | purchase

Purchase Featured Book

Title
Pidgin Grammar
Subtitle
An Introduction to the Creole Language of Hawaii
Author
Kent Sakoda and Jeff Siegel

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

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